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ISSUE 118 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/18/2005

Play translates to laughs

By Peter Bodurtha
Contributing Writers

Friday, March 18, 2005

The classics department put on an adaptation of Plautus’ “Curculio” (Latin for “weevil”) last Friday and Saturday for the biennial incarnation of the Latin play.

Its intent – other than to be the most extravagently corny production to hit Fosnes Recital Hall since the last Latin play – is to promote and support Latin programs in and around the Northfield area.

This year’s cast spent last Thursday and Friday touring local schools in the hopes that the entertaining production would do just that.

The play, directed by Chair of Classics Anne Groton, is a ridiculous take on Plautus’ ancient comedy. The focal plotline revolves around the swooning Phaedromus (played by David Varvel ‘06) and his love for the slave girl Planesium (Stephanie Walker ’05) who is owned by the chronically ill procurer Cappadox (Jason Zencka ’06).

Curculio (Kristofer Follmer ’07) is an eternally-hungry parasite whom Phaedromus pays in food to help him buy Planesium away from Cappadox.

As in previous years, the actors often said a phrase in Latin, followed by its English equivalent. This practice allowed the production to add some educational value to its general ridiculousness.

The limited translation was also an added bonus for “recovering” Latin students who could understand bits and pieces of it without having to consult the program glossary.

Aside from its obvious educational aims, most of “Curculio” displayed an acute appreciation for semi-improvised and often shockingly juvenile humor – referring to modern events while satirizing Plautus’ hilariously illogical and improbable plot.

The players would periodically break out into kitschy songs. Each character sang solo verses in Latin and English and then sang at least two more with audience participation.

Actors somehow managed to reference caf workers, the MLB steroids scandal, certain classics professors and the Asian beetles on the Boe Chapel ceiling while running around in front of the gloriously shifty-looking set made of overhead projector screens and painted bed sheets.

“Because the Latin play is so improvisational in nature,” David Varvel ’06 said. “It’s always a blast to see what crazy jokes the cast can come up with. Besides, as classics majors, there just aren’t too many ways in which we can showcase our boundless talents.”

Count the days. This Latin play will be performed for the last time at the Eta Sigma Phi National Convention April 16.

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